Poland And Ukraine Beef Up Euro 2012 Plans

WARSAW, Poland -- The presidents of Euro 2012 hosts Poland and Ukraine, under fire from UEFA over allegedly slack preparations, on Monday signed a deal to beef up plans for co-hosting the tournament.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko (L) exchanges documents with his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski during their meeting in Warsaw April 14, 2008.

In a ceremony in Warsaw, Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his Ukrainian opposite number Viktor Yushchenko inked an accord on "in depth cooperation" between the two countries, which have regularly been prodded by European football's governing body since they were picked as hosts almost a year ago.

"I want to give my assurance that Ukraine will stick to the timetable and that everything will be ready in time," Yushchenko said.

Among the key planks of the latest deal is a move to improve transport links between the two countries, which is one of UEFA's major concerns along with sluggish stadium construction.

Yushchenko said they planned to step up motorway and rail network projects.

One of the problems is that Ukraine's rail network uses wide-gauge tracks, a legacy of the Soviet era, unlike Poland which uses the narrower gauge seen across much of the rest of Europe.

The deal includes a project to extend Polish-standard tracks to Lviv and Kovel in western Ukraine. Lviv is one of planned host cities in Ukraine, while Kovel is a hub on the way to the capital Kiev, which is also a venue.

The 380-kilometre (236-mile) rail journey from the Polish capital Warsaw, another host city, to Lviv currently takes around 15 hours.

Yushchenko and Kaczynski announced that government ministers and host city mayors from both countries would soon meet in Lviv to assess overall preparations for the tournament.

On April 18, 2007, Poland and Ukraine were shock winners of the race to host the quadrennial tournament, pipping Italy and fellow joint bidders Hungary and Croatia.

It will be the first time that either Poland or Ukraine, both formerly part of the communist bloc, have hosted a major football championship, and UEFA has been ringing alarm bells about the way they are approaching the task.

At the end of March, UEFA chief and French football legend Michel Platini issued what he called a "wake-up call" over lack of progress and said he planned to take stock again in June.

After Platini's remarks, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk -- who has already boosted funding in response to earlier criticism -- countered that he was "100-percent convinced" that things would be fine.

Source: WorldCupWeb